We wanted to give an opportunity to those whose voices are often considered irrelevant – those of children – and to question and unleash new potentials for the future of their city, as well as manifest and materialize their hopes and dreams.
Have you ever wondered what the future of our cities would look like if children were in charge? Can we work together to shape a better future?
Disco School is a participatory project created to inspire and engage local communities to imagine a new vision for the future of their city.
The project was launched in collaboration with designers Jimmy Loizeau and Matt Ward, Primary School III in Murska Sobota, and the City Municipality of Murska Sobota, a small town that has suffered irreparable damage due to the collapse of its industrial plants.
Just as in Murska Sobota, local communities in many rural and post-industrial areas face particular problems. They often feel nostalgic, but also hopeless in imagining a future beyond the industrial past. Disco School works as a response to the challenge of progress and revitalisation of such places.
The process: designing a city with children
Shortly after the project was launched, Europe was hit by the Coronavirus pandemic and we had to move our work online. That’s when we decided to focus mainly on children and help them overcome the isolation and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic by encouraging them to imagine a world filled with different possibilities. By using speculative design practices as a participatory tool for local engagement and education, the aim was to stimulate children’s interest in community life and to establish a link between them and the city’s decision-makers.
Jimmy Loizeau, Matt Ward, our CEO Sara Božanić, teacher Mihaela Ružić, and musicians kleemar and Big Papa worked with kids from Primary School III Murska Sobota in search of new perspectives to think about a new form of city plan. Through a pre-planned methodological work online (during the lockdown) and an open dialogue about the future of the city in a live workshop, a total of 98 children participated in the project, using clay, poems, songs, collages, collective models, manifestos, and interviews to create a semi-fictional city plan. You can read more about the process here.
The project resulted in a playful exhibition, which was first on display at the MIKK – Youth Club Murska Sobota (11-22 September), then moved to a group exhibition entitled “My Neighbourhood, My City” at the Cultural Centre ‘Le Corbusier’ in Firminy, France (15-29 October), and to Ljubljana at the Institute for Transmedia Design (17-20 December).
Continuation: from a place of nostalgia to endless possibilities
Invited by the festival organizers and the Slovenian Cultural Information Centre SKICA, Disco school was exhibited at this year’s Vienna Design Week. A three-day workshop for kids from the Kenyongasse Educational Center was also held during the festival, creating artworks reflecting new scenarios for an inclusive multicultural future. The workshop will continue during the upcoming school term under the guidance of teachers Michaela Landrichter (project leader from Vienna), Christine Gobbi, Filiz Isabel Türkyilmaz, Katharine Müller, and Philipp Tyran.
Following the well-received group exhibition in Firminy, our project attracted much attention and interest from the local community, leading the municipality of Firminy to launch a new collaboration that entails working with five nearby primary and secondary schools. The project also continues in Murska Sobota, where it began, with a collective reimagination and creation of a contemporary urban playfield.
You can read more about the continuation of the project here.
VIENNA DESIGN WEEK 2023
The outcomes of the collaboration with all eight primary schools from three cultural environments will be brought together in a brand-new final exhibition which will first be shown at the next Vienna Design Week in 2023, and then at the “Le Corbusier” Cultural Center.
Disco school is co-produced by the Institute for transmedia design, with the support of the Centre for Creativity, the Municipality of Murska Sobota, Primary School III Murska Sobota, MIKK – Youth and Culture Club Murska Sobota, the Institute for Culture, Tourism, and Sport Murska Sobota, the Municipality of Ljubljana, “Le Corbusier” Cultural Centre, the Municipality of Firminy, Kenyongasse Educational Center, Vienna Design Week, SKICA – Slovenian Cultural Information Center, Speculative Futures Lisbon, Academia Maribor, Goldsmiths University of London and the Academy of Arts in Split.